The last Marquette Law School Poll before Tuesday’s election puts President Barack Obama ahead of his challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney, by eight points (51% to 43%), according to results released Wednesday at Eckstein Hall. That’s a shift from two weeks earlier when the race was effectively tied (Obama 49%, Romney 48%).
In the US Senate race in Wisconsin, Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin leads Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson by four points, 47% to 43%, with 10% undecided.
The figures come from a sample of 1,243 people identified as likely voters. The results carry a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. Telephone polling, including people who use cell phones, was conducted between Oct. 25 and 28.
Charles Franklin, director of the poll and visiting professor of law and public policy, said that drilling a little deeper into the results shows how important turn-out will be on Tuesday. Among those polled who said they were likely voters and follow politics closely, the outcomes are much closer – a two point difference in the presidential race and a one point difference in the Senate race.
Franklin said people who follow politics closely are more likely to actually vote than those who are identified as likely voters but say they did not follow politics closely. “It works to Obama’s advantage if the less interested voters turn out, while it improves Romney’s chances if they stay home,” Franklin said. “This shows how get out the vote efforts of both parties can affect the results.”
Franklin said loyalty to the major candidates among those who identify with the candidates’ parties remains very high – Republicans favor Republicans and Democrats favor Democrats by huge proportions. The movement in overall results has been strongly associated with shifting opinions among people who identify themselves as independents.
Responses to several questions indicated that Wisconsinites as a whole are not suffering from election fatigue as a historic political year nears an end. Some experts expected interest and participation to be less in the fall than during the recall election for governor in the spring. But Franklin said the percentage of people who said they had up put yard signs or put bumper stickers on their cars in connection with the current campaigns remains high (24%), and 49% said they had tried to persuade someone recently about how to vote. Both are considered high numbers. A third of those polled said they had stopped talking about politics with at least one person because of the divisions it causes, almost the same number as during the recall campaign.
The new round of polling was the 14th for the Marquette Law School Poll, which has been a central source of information on Wisconsin political opinion this year. Full results for this round (and all others) can be found by clicking here.